• 20 January 2010
  • Posted By NIAC
  • Events in Iran, Human Rights in Iran

Majid Tavakoli was sentenced to eight and a half years in prison and a five year ban from political activity and leaving the country. Tavakoli is the Amir Kabir student who was arrested (for the third time) after giving a speech at the university and was later dressed in hejab by the authorities in an attempt to embarrass him. This failure led to the Men in Hejab Campaign, in which Iranian and non-Iranian men worldwide dressed in hejab as a sign of solidarity with Tavakoli. Here’s more from Radio Zamaneh:

The Revolutionary Court has charged him with “assembly and collusion against the regime, propaganda against the regime, insulting the Leadership and the President.”

Majid Tavakoli was arrested twice prior to this. The first time he spent 19 months in prison and the second time he was questioned for over three months in solitary confinement.

State media had claimed that after the speech at the University, Majid Tavakoli had tried to escape the security forces at the scene by “dressing up as a woman.”

A photo of the student activist was released the day after his arrest dressed in a woman’s outfit.

Eyewitness accounts said Tavakoli was arrested wearing regular male clothing.

In protest to his arrest and in his support, Iranians started a campaign by the name of “men in Hijab” where numerous men posted their pictures wearing headscarves or chadors on the internet.

Student activist have been target of fierce government crackdown in the past seven months. Yesterday four students from Qazvin’s International University were expelled from university. Six other students were given a total of 18 terms of suspension.

Posted By NIAC

    8 Responses to “Majid Tavakoli sentenced to 8.5 years in prison, 5 years ban from political activity and exiting country”

  1. Pirouz says:

    Not that I condone imprisonment based on political grounds, but perhaps it would have been better if this student had applied himself more to his studies in engineering, and less to political agitation.

    Keep in mind, higher public education in Iran is provided FREE by the state to all qualified students.

    Here in California, students protest and get arrested over the fact that they’re forced to pay tens of thousands of dollars for their equivalent pubic school higher educations.

  2. Guest says:

    “Here in California, students protest and get arrested over the fact that they’re forced to pay tens of thousands of dollars for their equivalent pubic school higher educations.”

    Umm, let’s see. At Berkeley alone there were 5 to 10 thousand protesters. Add the few thousand from the other campuses and the 20 people who got arrested for blockading other students out of a building before finals week is nothing remotely close to the crap that happens in Iran. Give it up with the false equivalences. If you want to look at abuses by countries other than Iran, there are plenty of examples–yes, including the illegal wars the U.S. has waged– but there’s no need to make infantile comparisons when there is no basis for them.

  3. Alireza says:

    Pirouz says: “Keep in mind, higher public education in Iran is provided FREE by the state to all qualified students.

    Here in California, students protest and get arrested over the fact that they’re forced to pay tens of thousands of dollars for their equivalent pubic school higher educations.”

    And yet, curiously enough, universities in California and other such hellholes of oppression in the U.S. are filled with students of Iranian background rather than the other way around. If only Americans realized how much less oppressive life is in Iran than in the US, I have no doubt that the Iranian embassy in Dubai would be flooded with those seeking to emigrate to the very symbol of freedom, prosperity, and progress, i.e. the Islamic Republic of Iran.

  4. Iranian-American says:

    “Keep in mind, higher public education in Iran is provided FREE by the state to all qualified students.”

    What a completely relevant and insightful point! The brutality of the California police, is only exceeded by their universities’ greediness. Thank God young Iranian citizens in Iran are free from this repression and injustice. I’m sure most of them, with the exception of this por-rou kid, appreciate the wonderful opportunity to study non-stop for months to take the Konkur, so that the small number of “qualified” ones can actually get into the university with the major they prefer, so that they will have a better chance to actually find a job in a country with about 20% unemployment (30% among Iran’s youth and women).

    Just goes to show, some people don’t know how good they have it. While I, like Pirouz, clearly don’t condone imprisonment based on political grounds (because that would be crazy), given the wonderful opportunities so generously provided by the Iranian government, perhaps this student should, out of appreciation, join the Basij and protect the truthful and uncorrupt system that is the Iranian government.

    Furthermore, people in universities should not engage in “political agitation”. Can you even imagine the horror if intellectuals and people with education were involved in Iran’s politics? I shudder at the mere thought of it.

    And not to mock a fellow young Iranian who is being imprisoned for 8.5 years of his life for simply speaking out against the government, but I heard he dresses like a girl.

  5. Iranian-American says:


    “… hellholes of oppression in the U.S. are filled with students of Iranian background rather than the other way around.”

    Good point. It is very peculiar how that is. Come to think of it, I’ve always wondered my parents took me at a young age and left their family and life in Iran to come to America and study. I always assumed it was because the Iranian football team wasn’t doing well.

    Given that Priouz clearly understands the generosity of the Iranian government, and is well-aware of the brutality of the American government, living in the belly of the beast in San Francisco, perhaps he has some (further) insights on this rather curious phenomenon (beside the obvious reason of the football team).

  6. Publicola says:

    An aside:
    Though the ground(s) given for writing the letters/commentaries above are/is sad, I couldn’t help laughing a lot about them ! – which again is evidence of the fact, that it is real life (in this case in Iran – but not only, mind!) that is satire itself.

    Here – to bore commentators and readers alike – some figures:


    The »green« movement for more democracy seems to be based mainly in cities under the young and educated parts of the population. Thus the tenor of media-reports. Therefore some statistical data are presented here:

    The median age in Iran is 27 years (i.e. half of the population is younger than this figure); the median age in Germany is approx. 44 years.

    Iran and Italy have an identical degree of urbanisation: 68% live in cities in each case.

    Literacy in Iran with 77% approaches that of Turkey with approx. 87% .

    The official election result of 33.75% for the candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi and ca. 36% for the opposition altogether legitimizes the Iranian opposition to a higher degree than each of the two large German political parties has been able to acquire in the last national election in 2009 (under 35%; more exactly: Socialdemocrats/SPD with 23%; Christian-Democrats/CDU/CSU with 33.8%) .

    Thank you for your patience !

  7. Publicola says:

    Pardon – I forgot the conclusion to be drawn from these figures:

    In other words, the apparently violent suppression of the oppositional trend is condemned to certain (middle- and longterm) failure from the demographic and election-statistical point of view.

  8. Publicola says:

    A EUROPEAN PERSPECTIVE (France and Germany)

    A brief, fair and rather exact account of past European affairs, suggesting
    what the Iranian government ought to do
    what the Iranian government will probably sooner or later be forced to do.

    I. – [May 1968 in France]
    »The student revolt reached its high points during April and May 1968: Particularly in France, where the students gained the support of the workers, and some 10 million people went on strike, calling for political reforms.
    The government of DE GAULLE
    • [who by the way had to take TEMPORARY REFUGE at an air force base in Germany !!!! ]
    • had to make FAR REACHING COMPROMISES «

    II. – [1968 Germany – student movement]
    »In Germany, where the students did not seek the support of the workers, and hence the protests remained mainly confined to student-police fights,
    • ISSUED A FAR REACHING AMNESTY for the prisoners kept after the revolts.
    • The reform of the German educational system for example, the reformed second cycle of the grammar schools and the comprehensive schools are direct results of the 68 movement.
    • Equally, the emerging of the Green party can be widely attributed to the students of 68.«

    From: Stephan DAHL. Culture and Culture Transformation, ECE, 1997.


    [comment in brackets by the undersigning commentator]



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Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



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